Bribery of a Public Servant
Whether you live in a small town or a big city, you probably know that the best way to get anything done is to know the right people. In many cases, knowing the right people is the key to getting a certain job, especially a county or city job, getting a certain type of zoning or building permit, or getting a project approved with a local planning commission. This "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" system often gives way to activity that constitutes a very serious felony charge in Tennessee: Bribery of a Public Servant.
Tennessee's statute prohibiting bribery of a public servant reads as follows:
(a) A person commits an offense who:
(1) Offers, confers, or agrees to confer any pecuniary benefit upon a public servant with the intent to influence the public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, exercise of discretion or other action in the public servant's official capacity; or
(2) While a public servant, solicits, accepts or agrees to accept any pecuniary benefit upon an agreement or understanding that the public servant's vote, opinion, judgment, exercise of discretion or other action as a public servant will thereby be influenced.
(b) It is no defense to prosecution under this section that the person sought to be influenced was not qualified to act in the desired way because the person had not yet assumed office, lacked jurisdiction, or for any other reason.
(c) (1) Bribery of a public servant under subdivision (a)(1) is a Class B felony.
(2) A public servant accepting or agreeing to accept a bribe under subdivision (a)(2) is a Class B felony.
This statute is pretty clear in that it prohibits bestowing any benefit on a public official in exchange for their performance of a political favor or any other use of their official authority that benefits the bribing party. Likewise, in an effort to discourage both sides of the transaction equally, this statute prohibits the public servant from receiving any such benefit in exchange for the improper use of the servant's political authority.
Giving or receiving a bribe in violation of this statute is classified as a class B felony in Tennessee, meaning that the individual charged with this offense faces up to thirty years in jail depending on his or her criminal history. If you or someone you know has been charged with giving or receiving a bribe in exchange for a political favor, contact an East Tennessee criminal defense attorney for help in fighting the charges.